Calculating the Cation Exchange Capacity from a Routine Soil Test
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Calculating the Cation Exchange Capacity from a Routine Soil Test

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The CEC value included on typical soil testing laboratory reports is calculated by adding together the

concentrations (expressed as milliequivalents of charge per 100 grams of soil) of potassium, magnesium,

calcium, sodium and hydrogen, which are extracted from soils using an appropriate extraction method. The

University of Georgia Soil Testing Laboratory uses the Mehlich I procedure, based on a double acid (0.05 N

HCl + 0.025 N H2

SO4

) extracting solution. This method is appropriate for acidic, low CEC soils, which are

commonly found in Georgia. The CEC of soils containing large amounts of clay or organic matter, or that are

alkaline, cannot be satisfactorily analyzed using the Mehlich I extract. Other soil extraction methodsshould

be used on these types of soils.

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